IV. WHAT IS THE WORK OF THE OVERCOMER?
Scripture Reading: Josh. 3:6, 8, 13, 15-17; 4:10-11, 15-18; 2 Cor. 4:10-12
The Work of the Overcomer
In considering the overcomers, we need to pay attention to two things: (1) God chose a few persons to take the place of all the people who failed. (2) God made the few carry out God’s command first, and then He worked the same thing into the majority.
God chose the Israelites to be a kingdom of priests among all people (Exo. 19:5-6), but they failed because they worshipped the golden calf at Mount Sinai. God then chose the sons of Levi, who had done His command, to be His overcomers to replace the Israelites as the priests (Exo. 32:15-29).
Originally God intended that the whole tribe of Israel be the priests. But because they worshipped the idol, God made the Levites to replace the Israelites as the priests.
God works on a few persons first. Then He works on the majority of the people through these few. Before God could deliver the Israelites, He first had to deliver Moses. God had to deliver Moses out of Egypt before He could deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. God had to deal with David to gain him first, before He could deliver the Israelites from the hand of the Philistines and could make them a nation. All spiritual goals must be fulfilled by spiritual means. God had to deal with Moses and David to the extent that they would no longer try to fulfill God’s will by their flesh or exercise their flesh to render God the help.
First God gained twelve people, then one hundred and twenty, and finally He established the church. God allows a few persons to take up the responsibility which the majority should but would not. The principle of the overcomers is for God to allow a few persons to do something that results in blessing for the majority. He makes a few persons to stand in death so that the majority will receive life. God plants the cross into their heart for them to experience the principle of the cross in their family and their environment. The result of this is that life is poured into others. God needs channels of life in order to pour out life to others.
Standing in the Place of Death
that Others May Receive Life
God put the priests in the place of death so that the Israelites would have a way to the land of life. The priests were the first ones to go into the water and the last ones to come up out of the water. They were the overcomers of God. Today God is seeking for a group of people who, like the priests of old, step into the water, that is, walk into death first. They are willing to be dealt with by the cross first, to stand in the place of death in order that the church will find the way of life. God must first put us in the place of death before others can receive life. The overcomers of God are the pioneers of God.
The priests could not do much by themselves; they merely bore the ark. They had to bear the ark of the covenant and go down into the midst of the water. We have to let Christ be the center, to put on Christ, and to go down to the water. The feet of the priests were standing on the riverbed while their shoulders were bearing the ark. They were standing in death, while lifting up Christ.
The bottom of the river is the position of death; it is not comfortable, attractive, or restful. They were not sitting there, nor lying there, but standing there. If I live in my temper, Christ cannot live in others. If I stand at the bottom of the river, others will cross over the Jordan victoriously. Death works in me, but life works in others. If I die in submitting to God, life will work in others to make them also submit to God. The death of Christ works His life into us. Without death, there is no life.
To bear the ark of the covenant at the bottom of the river is a great suffering. They needed to be very careful. If they were not careful, the holy God would destroy them. They stood there watching the Israelites crossing one by one. Yet they were set to be last. The apostle said, "God has set forth us the apostles last"; "we have become as the offscouring of the world, the scum of all things, until now" (1 Cor. 4:9, 13). He wished all would believe in the gospel but not be like him with chains on his hands (Acts 26:29). Do I want a good report, an easy life, or sympathy? Or do I want the church of God to gain life? May we be able to pray, "Lord, let me die so that others can gain life." God has said clearly that this is not an easy matter. Yet only in this way will God accomplish His eternal plan.
Before they could come out, they waited at the bottom of the river for all of God’s people to cross over. We cannot come out of death before the kingdom comes. Eventually Joshua commanded, saying, "Come ye up out of Jordan" (Josh. 4:17). Our triumphant Joshua will tell us to come up out of the water. This will happen at the beginning of the kingdom.
Many people are not disobedient; they are merely not obedient enough. It is not that they have not paid the price, but that they have not paid enough. It is not that they would not spend the money, or that they would not raise an army, but what they do is not adequate (Luke 14:25-35). Without going through the cross, one cannot reach Gethsemane. Without dealing with the cross, one cannot say, "Your will be done." Many people like the calling of Abraham, yet they do not like the consecration on Mount Moriah.
Have you ever envied others’ easy living? God has put us at the river bottom in order that we would be His overcomers. He put us in chains in order that others can receive the gospel. Death works in me but life in others. This is the only channel of life. The life that flows into us has passed through two pipes, Paul and Martin Luther. The Lord’s death first fills us with life, and then this life flows to others (2 Cor. 4:10-12).
The work of God’s overcomer is to stand upon Christ’s death so that others can gain life. The words of the Bible must first be realized by us before we can preach them. The light of the truth must first become life to us before it will become light to others. God makes His overcomers first see a truth and confirm such truth before He gains some others to obey this truth. Truth must first be constituted in us and become a part of our being. We ourselves must first have the experience of faith, prayer, and consecration before we can tell others what faith, prayer, and consecration are. Otherwise, we will only have the terms without the content. God wants us to go through death first after which He will give others life. We first must pass through the sufferings and the pain before others can have the life. To learn God’s truth, one must stand at the bottom of the river first. The reason the church cannot gain the victory by crossing over to the good land is that there is a shortage of priests who will stand in the bottom of the Jordan. Those who stand in the bottom of the Jordan will create a seeking heart in others. If a truth is deeply constituted in us, it will attract others to pursue the truth. Today, many of God’s truths need to be constituted in man. When we allow a truth to be constituted in us, we are allowing the Body of Christ to grow one more inch. The overcomers are those who receive life from above to supply the Body.
(Afternoon, January 27)
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)